Archive for the ‘Planning’ category

New Park Morton Master Plan Unveiled to Community

January 29, 2016

Last night the Park Morton Development Team presented the updated Park Morton Master Plan to members of the community. The new master plan incorporates comments and feedback gathered between the first Park Morton Steering Committee meeting on October 15, 2015 and the December 12, 2015, planning workshop. The result is a plan that contains a mix of housing types over the current Park Morton and Bruce Monroe sites while creating and preserving park space at both.

Park Morton Master PlanThe meeting was composed of two parts. The first part was an overall presentation recapping the process and then presenting the new plan and how community feedback had been incorporated into the plan. The second part was made up of three breakout groups where community members could make additional comments and suggestions and ask more in depth questions.

At the Park Morton site, the master plan extends Morton Street to the east connecting it to Warder Street. A new north-south street is also proposed connecting Morton Street to Park Road. At its core is a new park. The building types along Morton Street would resemble rowhouses, though many would contain more than one living unit. The area along Park Road would contain a large apartment building that is 4-stories along Park Road and rises to 5-stories towards the rear.

Below is the basic plan:

Park Morton Master Plan PM Site

And below is a rendering of what this would look like on Morton Street, looking east toward the new park:

Morton Street Rendering

At the Bruce Monroe site, a large building would be constructed along Irving Street with the tallest section being on Georgia Avenue. The property would be split with the southern half remaining park space. A new road would be cut in to the rear and a few rowhouses would be constructed in the southwest corner along Columbia Road. One reason for dividing the property along an east-west axis was in response to community concerns over how the buildings would cast shade on the park and surrounding community.

A general idea of what the Bruce Monroe site would look like is below:

Park Morton Master Plan BM Site

And below is a rendering of what this would look like from the intersection of Georgia and Columbia Rd looking nw toward the park:

Georgia Avenue Rendering

Overall, the number of housing units would break down into roughly 200 at the Park Morton site and 275 at the Bruce Monroe site. While some questioned why the building at the Bruce Monroe site couldn’t be shorter and the buildings at Park Morton couldn’t be taller, overall the building types and density as presented are correct when considering zoning and D.C.’s Comprehensive Plan. Other aspects touched upon during the presentation included providing adequate parking by including parking garages under the large buildings and parking pads or garages for the towhouse structures; and an interest in including senior housing as part of the mix.

During the breakout session, some of the suggestions that were offered included incorporating public art at both sites, using the new Morton Street connection with Warder to create better east-west bike lanes; and a desire for a dog park.



Seeking Feedback on Long-Term Uses for the Bruce Monroe Parcel

August 10, 2015

The ANC 1A Task Force focused on the long-term use of the Bruce Monroe site is seeking public participation through a survey that is available online and will be distributed in print as well.

Bruce monroe site(The former Bruce Monroe site (shaded) showing area zoned commercial (east of blue line) and residential (west of blue line)).

For the past five years the Bruce Monroe parcel located at Georgia and Irving has been a temporary park. Despite modest improvements, the site continues to under-serve the community. Early development proposals in October 2010 in response to the city’s call for proposals went no where, and the property has mostly been a nearly three acre open space since that time with the exception of a fairly successful community garden located in the southwest corner of the property.

There have been many ideas over the years on what the future of the parcel could hold, including an idea I floated in November 2013 to use part of the land to help get the Park Morton redevelopment underway.

In an attempt to find a long-term solution to this parcel, ANC 1A passed a resolution to form a task force in February 2014, to begin working with community members and develop a better sense of where the community is on this issue. The result is a survey that is available online and will be distributed in print as well.

Below is the full announcement from  the area listservs. Please take a moment and send in your thoughts on the parcel.

The 1A Advisory Neighborhood Commission’s Bruce Monroe Task Force is soliciting community input to identify the desirable long-term use(s) for the former Bruce Monroe School site located at 3000 Georgia Ave NW Washington, DC 20010 (between Irving St and Columbia Rd). The Government of the District of Columbia currently owns this parcel. This site was formally designated to establish the Bruce Monroe Elementary School, which was later demolished in 2009. Currently, the site is designated for temporary park use. We need your input to determine the potential permanent use(s) for this site.The survey link can be found here:  This survey will take about 5 minutes to complete. The deadline to submit your response is September 9, 2015. Feel free to contact Commissioner Rashida Brown if you have any questions at 1a10(at) or (202) 903-4561.

Planning & Zoning Workshop This Saturday, September 27th

September 22, 2014

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion regarding planning and zoning as it pertains to our older residential neighborhoods — particularly in Ward 1. In Lanier Heights, there has been discussion to down zone the rowhouse areas currently zoned R-5-B to R-4. One of the significant differences between the two is that R-5-B allows apartment dwellings whereas R-4 is primarly for single-family rowdwellings which “can” be converted to apartment dwellings under certain conditions.

In much of Columbia Heights and nearly all of Park View, our rowhouses are currently located within the R-4 Zone. Even here, there is a proposal to make changes to the R-4 zone to reduce building height from 40 ft. to 35 ft. and to limit conversions to no more than two dwelling units (unless the owner gets a special exception). The Office of Planning’s proposal to make these changes is in response to the ever increasing occurrence of developers flipping rowhouses in the R-4 zone, converting them to multi-family dwellings, and “popping-up” the houses with another level.

Often times, the result of these flips has been less than attractive, resulting in many reaching out to the Office of Planning seeking help in controlling this trend. Additionally, this has had a direct and negative impact on the number of available living units with three or more bedrooms, thus increasing the cost for family sized housing in the city.

On Saturday, September 27th, Advisory Neighborhood Commissions 1A and 1B will be co-hosting a community workshop with members of the Office of Planning to foster open discussion on the current stresses within the District’s  rowhouse neighborhoods. The workshop will discuss the process behind their current proposals as well as the pros and cons related to adopting them.

See the flyer below for full details:


Public Meetings on Zoning Regulation Revisions Being Held

December 13, 2012
Planning's draft transit zone map showing walkability to modes of transit.

Planning’s draft transit zone map showing walkability to modes of transit.

One issue I’m trying to get my head around is the zoning regulation revisions that the Office of Planning has proposed. The revisions are currently in the middle of the community review and feedback process and are the first major revisions to the D.C. Zoning Code since 1958.

According to the flyer announcing the eight public Ward meetings on this, “The Zoning Regulations themselves need substantial revision and reorganization, ranging from new definitions to updated development and design standards, and even new zones.” The meetings for Ward 6 and 2 have already been held. The Ward 8 meeting is tonight and the Ward 1 meeting will be on January 5th at 10 a.m. The location has yet to be determined.

Other meetings are scheduled for:

  • January 8 (Ward 3)
  • January 9 (Ward 5)
  • January 12 (Ward 7)
  • January 16 (Ward 4)

All meetings will be the same and all are open to the public.

The Office of Planning has been working on revisions and reorganization of the zoning regulations for the last four years. With input from a task force, topic-focused working groups, and numerous community meetings, as well as general guidance from the Zoning Commission, the Office of Planning has prepared draft proposals for modernizing the zoning regulations.

Based on my limited exposure to the revisions, it sounds like one of the most significant proposed changes to the code will be on area parking. To use the proposed development at the corner of Otis Place and Georgia Avenue as an example, current zoning indicates that it should provide 1 parking space for every 2 living units it builds. As residents know, the developer has applied for relief from this requirement. However, in the Office of Planning’s proposed zoning revisions, the property would not be required to include any parking. This would be due to the property’s location within a transit area that has bus and Metro access. The Office of Planning has been handing out a four page flyer at its public meetings on transit zones which includes additional details on them and two maps (one of them above).

If nothing else, its clear that a rewrite of the D.C. Zoning ordinance is complex. I hope people interested in this will attend the public meeting on January 5th. I know I will — and I will definitely be reporting back to the community.


Yes!, and No for Development at Bruce Monroe Site

April 3, 2012

The Washington City Paper reported some very early interest in retail development on the Georgia Avenue side of the Bruce Monroe Park site. While the immediate future of the land remains a public park and community garden, there were development bids from October 2010.

From the WCP article…

… Adrian Washington … still dreams of developing the three-acre site. His current thinking is this: Build on only about a third of the space, putting retail on Georgia Avenue and apartments above, while leaving the rest of it as a park. Yes! Organic Market owner Gary Cha is very interested in taking part of the commercial space, given that it’s just far enough away from his Petworth location to be viable …

… the problem with this whole process—the city, with its hands full of more pressing projects, has zero desire to move quickly on this one. That could come from a lack of willingness to tangle with the kind of neighborhood politics that gave rise to picketing the last time anything happened at Bruce Monroe …

… Washington says he wouldn’t need direct subsidies to make something happen there—just a break on the price of the land. If it got built, he’d like to kick some of the proceeds back to the park that would remain on the majority of the site, which currently has little in the way of programming or infrastructure …


Anticipated Green Line Report Declares Corridor Top-tier Location for Population Growth, Job Creation, and Investment

January 12, 2012

When I first moved to Washington in 1994, the one piece of advice that many, many people gave me was “Avoid the Green Line — there is nothing good on the Green Line.” My how but times have changed.

Today, the Capitol Riverfront BID released the report they commissioned from Robert Charles Lesser & Co. on the economic health and commercial viability of the neighborhoods served by the Green Line stations between and including Georgia Avenue/Petworth and Navy Yard. A read of either the summary report or the full (313 page) report is interesting.

As you read through either report, keep in mind that Petworth is used throughout as shorthand for the 1/4 area around the Georgia Avenue/Petworth Metro, so that data is inclusive of the Park View/Ward 1 area served by the station.

From the report:


During the last decade, the District of Columbia re-emerged as the region’s growth driver. In fact, in 2012, the District had the highest population growth percentage in the nation. During this process, it reversed the historical trend
of lost market share of population and jobs to suburban competitors and has become a destination of choice not only for professionals but increasingly for the companies and organizations for which they work.

Regional real estate and economic observers have long pointed to property located along Metro’s Red Line in Northwest Washington and the Rosslyn-Ballston (R-B) Orange Line Corridor in Northern Virginia as successful investment and development corridors. Development locations and opportunities in these two corridors have been highly sought-after, garnering not only regional, but national, recognition. (more…)

In Brief: Why D.C. Needs Comprehensive Civic Planning

July 15, 2011

I think the image below shows what happens when there is not broad, comprehensive civic planning that is inclusive of the community. It shows the Georgia Avenue facade of the Fisherman of Men Church (former York Theater), which is currently being modernized.

The church came to the conclusion that their building was void of historic character and that its outdated facade did not “fit in” with the surrounding neighborhood. So, they decided to modernize the structure so that it is closer in appearance to the newer development on the Avenue. At the same time, the Middle Georgia Avenue Great Streets Project is installing new historically sensitive street lighting to be more compatible with the neighborhood.

I’ll be meeting with Director Majett of DCRA today to talk about this and related issues.

UPDATE: There will be a follow up meeting to include Office of Planning Director Tregoning.


Reconsidering the Partial Closing of Otis Place

June 7, 2011

Last August I posed the question on whether or not closing a portion of Otis Place to connect the school and recreation center properties was a good idea or not. Since it was unclear at the time if the school was destined to be modernized or closed, I dreamed large and not only closed the entire block but cut in a new road at the rear of the recreation center’s property.

Now that things are more settled I think its time to think about this again. During the last year a decision has been made to keep the school open and renovate the building. We are also poised to begin renovations of the rec center’s athletic field. Because space at the rec center is at a premium and residents have expressed the desire to support tennis, basketball, soccer, and football, we either need to find additional space or decide what we are willing to live without. One possible way to enhance the neighborhood’s need to balance recreation, green space, and general quality of life would be to close the portion of Otis Place between both campuses.

Realistically, what would a partial street closure look like and how would it impact traffic? Below is a map that makes sense to me along with notes on what would need to change.

Map indicating how closing the section of Otis Place between the school and rec center could impact traffic

The only part of Otis that truly lends itself to closing easily is the section between Warder Street and the alley behind 6th Street, NW. Yet, to close this section the following changes would need to be made.

  1. Newton Place between Warder Street and 6th Street would need to change from a one-way eastbound street to a one-way westbound street.
  2. It would make sense if 6th Street, NW, were changed to a one-way northbound street.
  3. The stoplight at Otis and Warder would no longer make sense and should be relocated to the intersection of Princeton Place and Warder (or perhaps just a stop sign could be placed at this intersection and the traffic signal eliminated entirely).

This wouldn’t impact drivers too much since both Princeton Place and Park Road (the streets directly north and south of the affected area) support two-way traffic and have traffic signals at their intersections with Georgia Avenue.

Closing this section of Otis Place is not a new idea. Records at the DCPS school archives indicate that it has been raise at least two prior times. The first attempt to close Otis and unite the adjacent playground with the school property was proposed in 1928, but was opposed by the Georgia Avenue Business men.  It was raised again in 1962 when the Board of Education requested the closure to make the school and recreation lands available for joint use. This met with opposition from the Pleasant Plains Civic Association ultimately causing the request to be withdrawn from consideration.


Georgia Avenue Retail Action Strategy Plan

May 12, 2011

As expected, Tarek Bolden, Ward 1 Neighborhood Planner, DC Office of Planning, made a presentation on the Georgia Avenue Retail Action Strategy (RAS) at last night’s ANC 1A meeting. The slides from the presentation are at the right.

While the information is based on the Georgia Ave.-Petworth Action Strategy drafted in December 2009, Bolden explained that one of the goals of the RAS is to find ways to redirect the untapped spending power of undeserved areas  and refocus that spending on the neighborhoods they are in or near. The Office of Planning wants to attract and retain the appropriate mix of local, small and independent retails as well as national brands. Currently, the District estimates that about $1 Billion in annual residential retail is spent outside of the District. The Office of Planning is in the early stages of identifying how to achieve these goals so Bolden wasn’t able to share any concrete methods to improve area retail during the presentation. However, the Office of Planning does know that they want to do it in partnership with the communities and organizations that are in the areas they have identified.

One aspect of the RAS that I particularly liked was the introduction of community branding to the planning process. While the presentation introduced the concept with the area around Howard University, I stretched the conversation to include the area around the Georgia Ave.-Petworth Metro and how that area needs to be more accurately portrayed in city documents, including the presentation at hand.


Zoning Hearing for The Vue Project Coming Up

March 1, 2011

The Zoning Commission will be holding the public hearing for Neighborhood Development Company’s Planned Unit Development (PUD) located at 3321 Georgia Avenue this Thursday.

Readers may recall that this is for NDC’s The Vue project located at Morton and Georgia (the strip mall that includes the Post Office). The need for the hearing is to respond to NDC’s request to build 20 feet higher than the current C2A zoning allows, which would allow the finished building to be a 90 foot structure with C2B zoning.

To offset the proposed zoning change and the development’s denser footprint, NDC has proposed to renovate the field house at the Park View Rec Center. This proposal was supported by ANC 1A at their January meeting.

For those interested in attending the hearing, details are below:

Location: One Judiciary Square, 441 4th St NW Suite 220S
When: March 3, 2011 @ 6:30pm
Case #: 10-26


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