What’s Going on at 454 Park Road?
Over the past several weeks I’ve received several questions wanting to know what’s going on with 454 Park Road, NW. Those familiar with the property will know that permits to add a third story to the building were originally applied for back in June 2014. The developer, Taja Investments, proceed to pull permits and begin their redevelopment of the property.
In February 2015, Councilmember Nadeau’s office reached out with a question concerning a complaint they received about the property that was the result of the yard being dug out and lowered to street grade. Later that month I began to work with DCRA when unpermitted popups began on Princeton Place and other areas nearby. In passing, I asked DCRA to explain how height was measured at 454 Park Road — the reason being that without the front yard the building appeared to be much taller than it otherwise would be, and such construction seemed to be contrary to the Zoning Code. What followed was a full review of the plans in order to explain how the property complies with DC’s zoning regulations.
The simple question on height — which is answered in that height is measured from the center of a building where it meets the ground at the time the permit is issued — has morphed into a much bigger issue. Apparently the construction and building at 454 Park Road are not entirely in sync with the plans that were reviewed by DCRA when the permits were issued. This has triggered a broader review of the project.
In reviewing permit applications received by DCRA from April 24 through May 14, 2015, The following notice was included:
Revision to permit number B1403570 to include excavation of front, side and rear yard, new areaway at front and rear, penthouse, fence and rooftop deck. changes to 3rd floor addition. Revision to include changes to previously approved MEP Plans. Permit was approved for 3 units change to 2 units.
While it looks like Taja has its work cut out for it to make the building comply with DCRA’s permitting process, there is a bigger issue that still hasn’t been resolved and not noted in the permit applications — the building’s size. While the building’s height complies with the R-4 height restrictions, the building itself does not. By removing the front yard the developer created a four-story building and buildings can only be three-stories in the R-4 Zone. There are only three ways I know of that could solve this problem:
- The developer could put the yard back in at the original grade, which isn’t likely to happen with all the “improvements” that have already been constructed;
- The developer could remove the original third story, bringing the property into compliance as a three-story building; or,
- The developer could seek a zoning variance and hope that they would be allowed to have a four-story building.
It is too early to tell how this will end or what recommendations DCRA may make. However, I feel strongly that zoning variances should be considered and settled prior to construction, not retroactively pursued to permit construction that otherwise would not have been approved.DCRA, Development comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.