Minor Neighborhood Development News

I wanted to introduce two projects that I’ve only learned about through residents who live near them. Both appear to be completely by-right, so there will not be an opportunity for ANC 1A to review them and the Commission has not received any notification or details. Still, I believe both of them will have a significant impact on the area. In both instances, there has been some concern to a greater or lesser extent about how they may impact the architectural character of the community. At this time, the only real tool available to residents concerned about the neighborhood’s historic character would be to pursue a historic district — which hasn’t been something widely supported in the past. Still, I’d be happy to pull together information on that should readers want to know the pros and cons of that process.

The first development is at 3612-3614 Park Place. Readers may recall that these properties went through the Board of Zoning Adjustment process last year seeking relief for a six-unit condo building. Ultimately, the relief for the sixth unit was denied by the BZA. According to the sign out front, the current project is by Global Street Real Estate. Its been relayed to me that their plan is to build a five-unit condo building and keep the facades of the buildings.

3612 3614 Park Place(3612-3614 Park Place, NW)

The other property is 3542 Warder Street, NW. It is currently a free standing house. It changed owners in August 2013 for $1.3 million. Currently there is a  building permit application # B1405325, which was applied for on March 27, 2014, and is pending,  to convert the existing single family structure into a 12 unit multi-family building. It has been described to me that it will be a “modern-styled” structure. Where this conversion is particularly sad is that the property owner can build up to the property line on the north — which abuts a row dwelling that has seven windows facing the south. Even though those windows have been on the side of the row dwelling since it was built in 1916 (98 years), DCRA considers them to be at risk — meaning that the new construction to the south can be built directly in front of them. The property in question is below.

3542 Warder(3542 Warder Street, NW)

Readers with more information on either of these projects are encouraged to share.

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15 Comments on “Minor Neighborhood Development News”

  1. cliff Says:

    Uugghh…I used to live in a historic district and hated it, but with DCs strange zoning that allows so much that can negatively impact homes in the area I am starting to think its the only solution.

  2. Michael Phelps Says:

    thanks for the updates

  3. db Says:

    Demand, meet supply. Maybe if we weren’t artificially limiting supply with stupid laws such as the Height Act there wouldn’t be an overflow of multi-unit buildings into formerly single family home blocks (by right!). Lots of room for growth on Georgia Ave, but b/c structures can only go so high, and developers must build an absurd amount of parking and get special exemptions to allow for ground floor retail it makes it harder for investors to earn whatever returns they require on their capital. It’s too bad the opponents of updating DC’s zoning regs and repealing the Height Act (the same folks) have chosen a scorched Earth policy in their fight against any and all change. There is probably a very good compromise position that the vast majority of DC residents would be happy with if the zealots would only put away their torches and pitchforks.

    • Quebec Says:

      The Height Act has little or nothing to do with Georgia Ave. Most of Georgia is zoned C-2-A, with allowable heights up to 50 feet (5 stories). Without touching the Height Act, or even the current zoning, there’s room for hundreds of additional residences along Georgia Ave. The properties just aren’t turning over very fast.

    • K Says:

      Height Act has very little if nothing to do with this. GA has been very slow to develop and there is plenty of money to be made by investors despite the ‘absurd’ laws against the developers.

    • Park-what? Says:

      db (really?) if the Height Act were to pass, what makes you think that developers would have any intentions of building on GA? The best way to earn higher returns and where demand is higher would be on Logan, DuPont, Shaw. Then Parkview, Col Heights, Petworth would go back to what they were, db

  4. Diane Says:

    The old Warder house at 3542 Warder Street is, apparently, a done deal with no opportunity for input from immediate or nearby neighbors. In addition to the demo and construction of 12 condo units, the property will include 14 parking spaces (more than zoning requires) in the back and to the side of the house. I think I’d feel differently about this conversion if a) housing style and neighborhood input were considered, b) a family were not losing windows, c) the housing to be built would include even a couple affordable units (all units are slated to be ‘luxury’ and staring at a price point higher than what I could get for my entire house nearby). That this project will include more parking than is required also annoys. One remaining hope is that the developer uses some type of permeable surface for the parking lot so that water runoff doesn’t become a problem. In the meantime, an old multi-unit apartment building continues to sit empty right across the street. This isn’t just about demand meeting supply but about developers who see opportunity to make a mint in neighborhoods in which they do not live. I’m not naïve; I know this is how things go. But I am sad.

  5. JS Says:

    DC’s zoning is so screwed up. It’s far too difficult to build large multi-unit buildings where they make sense and far too easy to convert row units into apartment dwellings.

  6. pru Says:

    I’m glad that the Park Pl development will be 5 units rather than 6, but that Warder development news is truly awful. It’s so sad that the family who will lose so many windows has no recourse. How many of their current bedrooms will no longer be legal bedrooms, how much remodeling will be required, and how much will their property value fall? How can this not be a case of “grandfathering in”(98 years would be great-grandfathering)?

    • Kyle Says:

      The owner of the house that is losing windows can buy enough of the neighboring property in order to be compliant with fire code separations between buildings. Otherwise, the free ride of having windows on a property line is finally over, no matter how long they have been there.

      • pru Says:

        Kyle, I find it interesting that you call this a “free ride,” all the while encouraging the award of variances and favors to investors. We clearly don’t have the same perspective.

      • Joanne Says:

        Free ride? The house was built that way almost 100 years ago. It never has been an attached house.

      • Kyle Says:

        Unless the property line has been modified since the house was built, the windows were always along the property line, and thus always at risk. Therefore the house has enjoyed the privilege of opening onto a neighbor’s property for the last 100 years. Our primary concern should be the spread of fire between these two properties. The options are for the owner of the house to lose the windows, or to buy enough of the adjacent property that their windows can remain.

        We understood the risk of fire spread 100 years. It’s not a new concept. There’s no ambiguity in the issue.

        Surely this stinks for the affected property owner. It’s very unfortunate that they will lose windows. To be clear though, the burden does not fall onto the developer to accommodate at risk windows on a neighboring property.

  7. Byron T. Says:

    These all seem like good projects. The neighborhood and the city need more housing units.

  8. Ari Says:

    I’m with Byron, these are generally fine with me, as long as the end result isn’t too ugly – I often find that new “modern” buildings look better than trying to shoehorn additional units into the existing architectural features (exhibit a: the weird pop-ups on Kenyon West of Wonderland). Also wanted to flag 737 Irving. First pop-up on my block! I think they’re splitting into 3 units…


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