Life Imitating Art? DURKL Add Resembles Street Art

Posted September 17, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Art

Tags: ,

I noticed the following wheat paste posters on the wall of the building next to the former Georgia Market (southwest corner of Georgia and Kenyon), and at first mistook it for street art. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that it is actually an add for DURKL, a clothing retailer.

Well, either way, I find it graphically pleasant.


Councilmember Bowser Hosts 1125 Spring Road Meeting to Assess DGS/DCHA Proposal

Posted September 16, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Architecture, Development, Housing

Tags: , , , ,
The former Hebrew Home and Robeson School site at 1125 Spring Road.

The former Hebrew Home and Robeson School site at 1125 Spring Road.

Last night, Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser hosted a small group meeting at the Raymond Recreation Center to discuss last week’s proposal by the Department of General Services & the DC Housing Authority to redevelopment the former Hebrew Home property at 1125 Spring Road. Other participants in the group meeting included:

  • Commissioner Vann-Di Galloway (ANC 4C06);
  • Commissioner Kent Boese (ANC 1A08);
  • Commissioner Patrick Flynn (ANC 1A06);
  • David Dzidzenyo (Petworth Action Committee); and,
  • Jose Vicar (Friends of the Former Hebrew Home)

The meeting began with the DC Housing Authority’s Development Project Manager, Alastair Smith, giving a recap of the proposal for those in attendance who had not attended last week’s meeting. After Smith was finished, the meeting participants — beginning with Commissioner Galloway — each introduced themselves, spoke about the public engagement process, and spoke about their views on the current proposal.

Commissioner Galloway spoke about his support for a 100% affordable project, but that he could live with 10% market rate in the mix. He also commented on the parking being proposed and other related issued. Other topics touched upon included the need for DDOT to perform a traffic study and address if the units would be owned or rented by Commissioner Flynn; the role of Government and public land use as well as examples of other successful affordable projects in the area by Commissioner Boese; and a question about why 80% AMI was not included as part of the question by Mr. Vicar. There was also discussion on the scale/size of the project, whether or not rowhouses could be incorporated into the project, and how realistic the requested subsidy might be.

What was particularly noteworthy was the level of agreement among those in the small group — and in the room in general — on the overall proposal and its inclusion of a strong mix of income levels.

Hebrew Home affordability breakdown(Proposed breakdown of unit affordability for the Hebrew Home property).

Perhaps no more than 30 residents were in attendance at the meeting. Due to the size of the group, Councilmember Bowser broadened participation to all those who had questions. Bowser herself asked questions related to the size of the proposed subsidy ($18-20 million) and whether or not the DC Housing Authority thought that it was achievable, what the timeline for the project was estimated to be, and answered questions related to the surplussing and disposition of the property.

DCHA’s Smith and DGS’s Stephen Campbell acknowledged that $20 million was on the high end, but stated that there were other projects in the pipeline with similar requests. With regards to the timeline, they expressed a project that would include working through the public process for most of 2015 (including presentations at ANC meetings, review by the DC Council, etc.), perhaps 6 months to get through the permit process, and in the best case scenario beginning construction in early 2016.

Among the additional items I sought clarification on were the impact a smaller financial subsidy could have on the project, the opportunity for continued dialogue as the project moved forward, and the development’s architecture. Noting that some in the community have expressed concern that 200 units was too large, I asked if a lesser subsidy were provided if that could result in the project being scaled down, the mix of affordability adjusted, or some other tweaks to the plan. Should that happen, I also asked if those changes would be part of the community process. With regards to architecture, I requested that the final project be something compatible with the surrounding community and  designed in a manner that enhances the surrounding neighborhood.

The Housing Authority’s Executive Director, Adrianne Todman, in her address noted that once the project was completed, the Housing Authority would get a private management company. Responding to a point I had made earlier that a project is only as good as its management, Todman agreed, noting that she felt a private manager could more easily be held accountable for the daily operations of the building.

Responding to the comment on architecture, Smith stated that they also believed in delivering a high-quality project and for that reason had identified Wiencek + Associates — the architect of The Avenue (3506 Georgia) — as an architect they are interested in due to their proven record.

Hebrew Home property lines(Overview of the Hebrew Home property showing the property to be developed (red) and the property that would revert to the city to create an official ‘open’ 10th Street).

Interestingly, the Housing Authority also stated that they would be pursuing a Planned Unit Development (PUD) as the property will need to be rezoned for a multi-unit building. Bowser noted that a PUD could add 12 months to the project and stated that if this project moved too slowly that it would be better to submit proposals to the Council in January (noting that anything submitted before January would die in committee). Alternatively, Bowser also suggested that one of the reasons to have DCHA involved in the development was so that the schedule could be more aggressive. Should this not be possible, it is possible that the Committee on Economic Development may only consider the Surplus Resolution for the property before January with the idea that it could make it through Council and the Mayor’s office as well.

Bowser stated that her next steps are to schedule another meeting with DGS and DCHA to get a more solid idea on the timeline for the project.

The next public presentation with be at the October 8th meetings of ANC 1A and ANC 4C. It is expected that both Commissions will consider whether or not to support the current proposal.

Bruce-Monroe @ Park View May Soon Have Operational Elevator

Posted September 15, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Restoration repair and maintenance, Schools

Tags: ,


In visiting Bruce-Monroe @ Park View Elementary School last Friday, I was able to see the progress of the new elevator that is being installed. Judging from what I was able to observe and the conversation, the elevator could be finished in the next week or so. Then the elevator will need to pass its inspection before it can be officially placed in service.

I also learned that the lifts that are planned to provide ADA access to the cafeteria and gymnasium are still in the planning process. I’ll be following up with DGS to learn more about when work will begin with them.

It’s nice to see the elevator nearing completion. I began working on this in January 2014 after learning that the school had an immediate need to provide access for one of their students. The funding was identified from FY14 funds and therefore not represented in the FY 15 budget.


Morton St. Mews Design Evolves in Interesting Way

Posted September 12, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Architecture, Churches, Development, Housing

Tags: , ,

I haven’t posted about OPaL’s Morton St. Mews project in a while. Overall, I like the direction it is going. Readers may recall that when news of this development was shared in February 2014, the vision included reconfiguring the modest church structure into 10 two-level condos. A drawing from that time showing how this would look is included below.

Morton Street Brownstones & Church

While the church structure — located at 777 Morton Street — is unassuming, it was later learned that it was designed by African-American architect William Sidney Pittman in 1905 and was his first Washington commission as a professional architect. OPaL is also aware of this significant architectural legacy and has revised their plans accordingly.


The revised renderings (above and below) show a more sensitive and interesting treatment of the notable structure. You can compare the design in the revised drawing with how the church originally looked here.

OPAL1402 Morton Elevation

Historic 1922 Photo of National Baptist Memorial Church’s Corner Stone Ceremony

Posted September 11, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Architecture, Celebrations, History

Tags: , , ,

On April 23rd, I posted an account of the ground breaking ceremony for the National Baptist Memorial Church on 16th Street that happened to occur on the same date in 1921. Surprisingly, I’ve just found a related photo to the construction of the church … showing the April 22, 1922 corner stone ceremony. You can see that photo below.

SCAN0125(Photo from author’s collection)

The following description of the event is a portion of an article published in The Sunday Star on April 23rd:

Before a gathering of several hundred persons attending the ceremonies yesterday afternoon incident to the laying of the corner stone of the national Baptist memorial to Roger Williams and religious liberty, at 16th Street and Columbia road, Charles E. Hughes, Secretary of State, the principal speaker, paid a glowing tribute to “the pioneer who first in American, erected the standard of religious freedom.”

“Religious liberty is distinctly an American doctrine, for here the principle first found effective expression in government institutions,” the Secretary said.

The memorial, in course of construction, Secretary Hughes declared, was “at once a tribute and a pledge. It is a tribute in this capital, where the services and ideals of those who founded and preserved the Union are fittingly memorialized, to one of their great forerunners — Roger Williams. It is also a tribute to that earnest group of believers who, amid scorn and persecution, were steadfast to their distinctive tenet which was to become the vital principle of our free institutions. It is also a pledge that this principle shall be held inviolate.”

The article continues with a recount of Hughes honoring Anabaptists, a listing of the the notable religious men and women in attendance, and a description of the articles placed in the corner stone box.

Below are two additional photos of the same event that I found in the Library of Congress collection.

Hughes cornerstone 1

Hughes cornerstone 2

More Details and Next Steps Concerning the Hebrew Home Development

Posted September 10, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Development, Housing

Tags: , , ,
The former Hebrew Home and Robeson School site at 1125 Spring Road.

The former Hebrew Home and Robeson School site at 1125 Spring Road.

After last night’s meeting (September 9, 2014) hosted by the Department of General Services (DGS), we now have a better idea of what is being considered for the redevelopment of the former Hebrew Home site (a slide deck from the meeting should be posted online soon The DCHA presentation slide deck is available here).

The primary speaker at the meeting held at Raymond Recreation Center was the Housing Authority’s Stephen Green.  Green reiterated the plan to renovate the historic Hebrew Home building into about 80 living units and replace the Robeson School building with new construction for a total of about 200 living units. Beneath the new construction would be a level of parking containing around 95 to 100 parking spaces.

As presented, the development would include a preference for seniors for a number of studio and 1-bedroom units. Overall, the development would include a mix of studios, 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom, and a few 3-bedroom units.

The estimated total development cost of the project is $50 million. The project as presented would be 90% affordable and 10% market rate, with the Housing Authority seeking a subsidy of around $18-20 million — which would be a one time subsidy coming from the Housing Production Trust Fund.

The proposed breakdown of the units and their affordability was presented as follows:

% of Area Median Income # of Units % of Total Units Rent Range Household Income
Market 20 10% $1,600-$2,400
60% AMI 90 45% $1,000-$1,500 $40,000-$64,000
40%-60% AMI (Seniors) 50 25% $750-$1,100 $30,000-$45,000
30% AMI 40 20% $550-$800 $20,000-$32,000
200 100%

In response to a question from a resident on the issue of housing vouchers, Green stated that there is no plan to include vouchers in the project, but under the Fair Housing Act anyone qualifying for a unit who has a voucher would be eligible to apply for one of the units just like anyone else.

The overall timeline for the project would be for completion in 3 to 4 years. This was based on 18 months of construction and about a year to finalize plans, get zoning approval, and get through the cumbersome permitting process.

The meeting was well ordered with several good questions and comments being offered. Among those were a request to consider some of the larger units for seniors who may be raising grandchildren, the need to look at how the project would impact available parking for both Raymond Elementary and Raymond Rec Center, and the need to get a good property manager for the site.

Overall, those who spoke seemed receptive to the break down and amount of affordability presented. A few members of the community requested that more units be available for those at the lower income tier, and a couple residents expressed concern that a 200 unit project was too large for Spring Road.

The September 9th meeting will be followed by a small working group meeting hosted by Councilmember Bowser on September 15th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at the Raymond Recreation Center in the Multipurpose Room on the second floor.  The purpose of this meeting is to further discuss the development of the 1125 Spring Road, NW site and receive feedback regarding DGS’s proposals for the site. The small working group will assess the proposal and identify any recommended changes so as to inform Councilmember Bowser in her role as the Ward 4 Councilmember and Chair of the Committee on Economic Development.

Park View’s New Mural, “The Doors of Perception”, Completed

Posted September 9, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Art

Tags: , ,

The mural at the Rock Creek Market appears to be finished. I first reported about the mural on September 2nd, and you can see what it looked like then here. The mural is part of the MuralsDC program and the artist is Juan Pineda, and according to him, the title is The Doors of Perception.

Doors of Perception

As a dog person, I was particularly taken by the portrait of the Scottie, which you can see in the lower right corner of the mural above, or just look at the detail below.

Doors of Perception detail


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