Decision Summary HPA No. 91-518
- HPA Number
- Building Name
- The William Penn
- 2231 California St. NW
- Date of Order
HPA Number: 91-518
Case Name: In the Matter of: William Penn Apartments
Location of Property: 2231 California Street, N.W.
Date of Decision: 10/8/1993
Type of Permit Sought: Window Alteration
Date of Case Summary: 7/27/2006
Summary of Decision:
William Penn Apartments (Applicant), a contributing building in the Sheridan-Kalorama Historic District, sought a window alteration permit to replace all the original multi-paned, wood windows with metal windows in the same configuration as the existing windows. After a compromise proposal with the Sheridan-Kalorama Historical Association (SKHA) went awry, and the HPRB denied the replacement of the front façade with replacement windows, the Applicant appealed to the Mayor’s Agent. The Mayor’s Agent denied the request to replace the windows, concluding that the Applicant had failed to show that the proposed windows were consistent with the purposes of the Act.
Mayor’s Agent – Procedural:
• The Mayor’s Agent stated that the standard for review for an alteration permit in an historic district is D.C. Code § 5-1005(f), which requires that no permit shall be issued unless the Mayor’s Agent finds that the issuance is “necessary in the public interest.”
Necessary in the Public Interest:
The Mayor’s Agent stated that a project is deemed necessary in the public interest if it is either: 1) consistent with the purposes of the Act; or 2) necessary to allow “a project of special merit.”
Consistent with the Purposes of the Act:
The Mayor’s Agent stated that the determination of consistency with the purposes of the Act was really a “balancing test,” which recognizes that “creation of exact reproductions can be an undue burden on the property owner,” yet also recognizes “the obligation of custodians of an historic structures (sic) to maintain the integrity of the structure within its own historic period…within which it is located.” The Mayor’s Agent rejected SKHA’s contention that the Applicant must explore every option to repair the existing windows or produce an exact replication in order to meet the burden of proof. At the same time, the Mayor’s Agent also rejected the Applicant’s contention that proposed changes need only be “agreeable” with the character of the historic district. The Mayor’s Agent concluded that the Applicant’s proof that the windows it selected were energy efficient and had a lower maintenance cost than those currently installed was insufficient to meet the burden of consistency under the Act, and noted that costs had already been balanced to allow the Applicant to replace non-front façade windows with non-compliant windows.
Project of Special Merit:
Applicant made no claim nor submitted any evidence that the replacement of the windows qualified as a project of “special merit.”
The Applicant proposed to replace the existing multi-paned, wood windows with double-paned windows with mullions placed between the panes in the same configuration as the existing windows and argued that the “very close resemblance” with the original along with the cost-saving improvement over the original window entitled it to an alteration permit as consistent with the purposes of the Act. The Applicant also argued that the windows were “not an essential design element.” The HPRB and Staff Report disagreed, concluding that the proposed replacement windows “would substantially diminish the character and integrity of this otherwise well-preserved contributing building.” The Mayor’s Agent concluded that the Applicant had not met its burden of proof to show that the replacement windows were consistent with the Act, noting that “various windows may be more energy efficient and have lower maintenance costs... and some of these other windows may be more in character with the William Penn” than the proposed replacement windows.