Development Plans for 3701 New Hampshire Encounter Opposition in Petworth

Proposed development for 3701 New Hampshire Avenue.

Rendering of proposed development for 3701 New Hampshire Avenue.

Last week, the plans to redevelop 3701 New Hampshire Avenue, formerly home to Sweet Mango, encountered opposition from ANC 4C and members of the community. The blow-by-blow of the meeting — described as dysfunctional — is well covered by the Petworth News blog and can be read here. One of the key areas of opposition in that meeting had to do with how the 21-unit building would impact residential street parking.

Last month, ANC 1A also weighed in on the variances required for this project to move forward. Based on the Comprehensive Plan, the goals of the Georgia Avenue Overlay for the corridor, and need for more density and housing in the community, and how the developer is proposing to find solutions to accommodate potential car owners, ANC 1A passed a resolution in support of this development (read here). It is important to note that neither ANC 1A’s support nor ANC 4C’s opposition was unanimous.

It is fair to say that parking is an important issue — and an important quality of life issue. It must also be recognized that no two developments are exactly the same. In the case of 3701 New Hampshire, due to the oddly shaped lot, it just isn’t physically possible to build underground parking on the property, especially to the extent that zoning would require. The property also doesn’t have abutting properties to the north or south within the Georgia Avenue Overlay that would be able to be added to the development making parking possible. Keeping this in mind, along with the property’s close proximity to a Metro station, several bus lines, and a Capital Bikeshare station, there is no reason why this building should not be built. Furthermore, ANC 1A’s request to remove the loading zone and associated curb cut on Rock Creek Church Road as part of their approval should add two on-street parking spaces to the block.

To manage parking, Rooney Properties (the developer) is planning to provide new residents with SmarTrip cards, a bike share membership and car share membership for the first three years. They are also including space for bicycle maintenance and storage within the new building, and the lobby of the building will offer a transit screen that shows the number of bikes available and a real-time Metro train schedule. Rooney Properties is also actively seeking off-street parking options and has noted that several of the recent buildings in the area that have off-street parking are not parked up. They would be willing to provide free parking in these garages to new residents for three years as well.

According to the Petworth News report from the ANC 4C meeting, the following gives an idea of how much off-street parking is available in the immediate area. The Swift apartments (above Safeway) have 70 spots leased of their available 158 spots. The Park Place development has 138 spots leased of their 181 spots, and the 3 Trees Flats has 115 spots leased of their 130 spots. There is a lot of untapped parking potential in these buildings.

But another part of the story that wasn’t part of the ANC 4C discussion — and one important to developing some understanding of the potential hardships the immediate neighbors may face — is how much off-street parking exists in the community. Residents from the 700 block of Rock Creek Church Road were among those expressing concern about the potential impact this development could have on that block, so I took the time to walk the alleys to the north and south of that block to see if any off-street parking existed for these properties currently. What I learned was that 63% of the residential properties on the 700 block of Rock Creek Church Road currently have some form of off-street parking that they are currently using, or have the potential to use. If I include the west side of Warder street, this goes down to 61%. The map below shows the location of the proposed development and all the residential properties that have off-street parking.

3701 New Hampshire parking analysis 2(Map key: Orange=two-car garage; Yellow=one-car garage; Red=four car garage; Dark Blue=two car parking pad; Light Blue=one car parking pad)

(Note: in taking this survey of parking, I did not include a garage if its entrance was bricked in, but did include a garage if the doors were merely boarded up. In one case, I included a single-car garage that was too small for a modern car, but which had a driveway currently used for off street parking).

Here is how the parking on the residential properties represented on the map above breaks down.

  • There are 54 residential properties on Rock Creek Church Road and the west side of Warder Street. 33 of these properties (61%) have off-street parking.
  • 10 residences (18%) have garages.
    • There is 1 four car garage
    • There are 6 two car garages
    • There are 3 one car garages
  • 23 residences (42.5%) have parking pads
    • 6 properties have two car parking pads
    • 17 properties have one car parking pads
Garages and parking pads abound on the north side of the 700 block of Rock Creek Church Road.

Garages and parking pads abound on the north side of the 700 block of Rock Creek Church Road.

Overall, in adding all this up, there are currently 48 spaces on this block for off-street parking. In looking at the south side of the 700 block of Quincy, each residential property there similarly has at least one off-street parking space.

With the amount of off-street parking currently in this area, one starts to question why parking is so tight currently … and based on my observations I believe some (but definitely not all) of this stress is caused by factors other than housing. For instance, the 700 block of Quebec Place and nearby blocks are often stressed due to church parking from the Fisherman of Men Church. I have also witnessed on several occasions residents from further north in Ward 4 using Quebec, Rock Creek Church, and other nearby streets as commuter parking so that they can easily drive, park, and ride Metro. Whether there are solutions to these stresses or not, they certainly aren’t related to development or housing in the immediate community.

Factoring all of this together, I believe that the benefits of the proposed development far outweigh the cons, and that the impact the building may have on parking and the surrounding community will not live up to people’s  worse case scenarios.

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22 Comments on “Development Plans for 3701 New Hampshire Encounter Opposition in Petworth”

  1. Petworther Says:

    Let’s be clear. ANC Commisioner Timothy Jones opposes ALL development on Georgia Ave. He even opposed the new Safeway. If it were up to him, Georgia would be nothing, but single family row homes.

    Secondly, parking is not as big of an issue as this vocal minority makes it seem. The issue is that people want to park directly in front of their house and believe they “own” that spot. Sorry, this is a city. That’s not how it works. Furthermore, as you pointed out, a majority of these houses have off the option of off-street parking on their own property. Instead, they choose to use if for a backyard. Or to let other family members park their. One lady at the ANC meeting runs a “boarding” house with no less than six cars on one property and she has the nerve to complain about lack of parking? Her tenants are the main problem!

    Lastly, this is a GREAT project by a responsible developer. They’ve agreed to do more affordable units than required by law, have provided many incentives to encourage tenants not to use cars (who would buy a condo across the street from the metro and own a car with a car payment?), and they agreed to find a locally owned small business to occupy the the bottoms floor. Even if they turned the first floor into parking, they’d only be able to add TWO spots. The DC Georgia Avenue Plan calls for multi unit building along the corridor with retail on the bottom floor to increase housing and shopping.

    This is a vocal minority. The vast majority of residents support this project. We just don’t go to the ANC meetings because they are shit shows as was evident last week.

    • Says:

      These buildings always start with promises, but after a few months residents change and in come car-driving people who will indeed fight over spaces. I don’t need street parking for myself, but when I have friends and family visit they shouldn’t have to park 5 blocks away and walk in the dark to my place. The current building is too tall/big for the lot. If parking can’t be provided for residents, then there should be a ban on vehicle registrations upheld permanently for all residents. Otherwise, the total number of units should be reduced as a compromise.

      Is this supposed to be a rental or condo building? that’s also important to discuss.

      • Anon Says:

        Well the ANC was too busy cursing each other out and trying to rig the vote to bother to ask substantive questions or try to get REALISTIC concessions from the developer.

      • brandy Says:

        The developers really do need to sit down with you and design a building that accommadates your life. Perhaps they can designate a park and ride lot for your visiting family and friends.

    • jared Miller Says:

      Let’s be very clear Timothy Jones is very discerning and doesn’t oppose all development on Georgia Avenue. He knows more history about this area than you will ever know. Seems if, it were up to you there would be nothing but condos and bars.

      Secondly parking is a big issue. I am part of your so called vocal minority and I do believe I should get a space in front of or near my home that I have occupied for the last forty years. There is nothing more maddening then to sit in front of your house hoping someone will eventually leave so you can park legally. This limits the ability to come and go as you wish not mentioning the $35.00 fine for illegal parking. This is one of the reasons I pay for a residential parking permit. The majority of these homes don’t have off street parking in the back o their homes that are big enough for their cars, Commissioner Boese is probably looking outside his window feeling fortunate to have a garage under his house. I don’t understand why he decided to walk through the alley taking photographs of homes with garages but was not present at the ANC meeting to voice his opinion on the subject. Watch out I see a SNAKE IN THE GRASS, and as for his tally, my garage was built before 1963 and is not long enough for an average size car. Have you measured the alleys, the maneuverability is quite poor.. The alleys are very narrow and not designed for pulling in and out. Just as the developers pointed out they don’t have enough space to provide spaces and are not enough room for vehicles to pull into when underground , we on Rock Creek Church don’t either. Many of the parking pads are inadequate for vehicles made in this century!

      Lastly this is not a great project? How would you know, are you in bed with the developers?. It can join the 13 condo units built or under construction from Rock Creek Church Road to Upshur Street that are not fully occupied. There are over 12 home In the 700 block (odd) side of Rock Creek that have been turned into condo units or rooming houses. Why do you care if the developers agreed to affordable housing?, The way you talk sounds like you already own property.

      The vast majority of residents do not support this project. Further more I wish you were woman or man enough to get up and speak at the meeting instead of hiding behind your uninformed ignorant views. I don’t go to many shit shows , so I have nothing to compare it to at all. You apparently know more about this shit show than I do. Be man enough to state you name because I believe in the saying “PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN’ or maybe the head of the shit show.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    These commissioners crossed the line. I hope DC investigates the bullying and public harassment that occurred. Van-Di Galloway, Timothy Jones and Talib-Din should be ashamed. Instead of looking for solutions, they create division and personally attack (curse words, threats) those that politely disagree.

    Has anyone considered filing a complaint against them?

  3. Curious George Says:

    I support this project. There is no need for all this concern about parking. Most folks around here dont even have a car anyway! Use uber! Problem solved.

  4. S Says:

    I live on the 700 block of Rock Creek Church Rd and many people don’t realize that the row homes are in many cases broken into 3 or four apartments each. With that said, the parking spaces in the back are not usable for may of us. Regardless, I think this new construction will be good for the area, and an improvement from Sweet Mango.

  5. Mathew S. Says:

    Great article, thank you. The developers of this building are clearly trying to come up with solutions and offering incentives for the future residents to have alternatives when it comes to transportation as well as parking options available in already developed buildings nearby. I believe this project does bring much needed improvement to the area. I support it and look forward to seeing it completed.

  6. Chris Says:

    I’m wondering about the lack of discussion to remove the building from the RPP program, like the building at Princeton agreed to.

  7. Says:

    As a resident of the neighborhood, I think the height of the building should be reduced by 1-2 floors (3-4 total) if they really want to make amends about the parking. the proposed building is a monument of greed that will block the sky and host too many residents. There are several new construction projects in this area that don’t provide for parking of their residents and it’s ridiculous how DC is simply letting them overbuild on these small lots. This is the same problem with allowing tons of pop-ups in this area. They don’t allow it in Georgetown and Dupont Circle, why should they allow it here?!? If you can’t provide parking, because the lot is tiny, you shouldn’t be allowed to build a huge building on the lot, it’s simple.

    Part of Petworth’s allure is that you can see the sky, its an airy neighborhood that’s down to earth and not too hard to park in. Now that’s being thrown away by budget over-builders that want to build hotel-sized buildings on house-sized lots. It really needs to stop.

    I am also not a fan of the dated look of this proposed building. Park Place is a modern looking building, as well are several new buildings on Georgia avenue. That trend should continue in order to bolster the economic growth, and to attract quality retailers and restaurants. These builders chose a design with old-looking arches that remind me of an Olive Garden. It’s almost offensive.

    On the other hand, I’m still kind of happy to see the old building go, it’s an eyesore that grew way too far off of the little tavern it used to be, and I’m pretty sure most of the current building isn’t up to code. It’s caught on fire 4 times in the last 20 years.

    • mbk Says:

      Im pretty sure you will still be able to “see the sky” at 6 stories. I think the building should actually be taller. I also think someone needs to buy the CVS property and build at least 6 stories there. Property adjacent to metro stations should maximize that proximity. We are not building anymore stations in the city and people make specific choices to live adjacent to metros so they don’t have to own cars.

    • gentrify-u Says:

      Prince George’s awaits. I’ll help you pack

    • gentrify-u Says:

      Dated look? Get the awnings off your windows and help the neighborhood

  8. Says:

    Also, Rock Creek Church road is a small one-way road. This rendering depicts it as a wide 2 way road? I think they embellished this photo a bit too much. The lot is not that big…

  9. Jane Says:

    I, likewise, would like to see some assurances (restricting issuance of RPPs, etc.) that the new residents won’t — despite claims of relishing city life — realize that living in the DC area is more convenient with a car. (Living near public transit is not always mutually exclusive of car ownership.)

    I agree that many properties in the immediate area have existing off-street parking, but that shouldn’t mean that the neighborhood cedes its remaining street parking to the residents of one, new building. It’s probably worth taking steps now to avoid having Columbia Heights’ parking situation replicated in Park View/Petworth.

  10. Neb Says:

    Excellent post. The development seems like a great project.

  11. Dave Says:

    I support this project including the architecture as proposed. The height is appropriate for the zoning and because of it’s location directly across the street from a metro station.

  12. S Says:

    Why is everyone in the rendering white?

  13. Sarah Says:

    None of the proposed mitigation measures are permanent, with the possible exception of a screen in the lobby offering metro times. The ANCs should have asked the developers to agree to remove the building from the RPP system permanently.

    While I love that Kent did some legwork for this post, I don’t think the presence of driveway parking is as strong a point as he makes it out to be. If many existing residences have off-street parking and there is still enormous parking pressure on the block due to non-residential uses, why is that a good argument for adding to the pressure residential units with no off-street parking? Also, if existing residences mainly have off-street parking, shouldn’t new residences be required to abide by the same neighborhood standard by also providing off-street parking?

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