Archive for the ‘Historic Landmarks’ category

Proposals to Develop Hebrew Home Presented to Community

May 26, 2017

On Thursday evening, May 25th, DMPED hosted a meeting at Raymond Recreation Center so that the seven most promising development teams could present their ideas to the community on their ideas to renovate the old Hebrew Home property. All teams presented idea to convert the historic structure into housing and construct new housing to the east. However, no two presentations were exactly alike, with key differences being the number of units proposed, the amount of affordability of those units, and the density of the buildings.

A chief concern voiced by many residents was the impact that the development would have on area parking. There were also differing opinions on how much housing should be affordable, and how much density or height the new construction should be for the right balance.

The Powerpoint presentations from the meeting are available online here. Members of the public are invited to review them and provide any comments through an online forum available here: https://goo.gl/frtYFa  The forum will close on June 9th.

Below is a brief recap of each of the proposals with key data:

Team #1: Victory Housing & Brinshore Development

Key facts

Planned Unit Development: Yes

Housing proposed: Total 187  units

  • 88 senior units in historic Hebrew Home (100% affordable) (1- and 2-bedroom units)
  • 91 new construction units (60 affordable, 31 market rate) (1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom units)
  • 8 new townhouses for home-ownership opportunities

Parking spaces provided: 75

Comments: More information is needed on levels of affordability. Powerpoint available here.

Team #2: Bozzuto & The Menkiti Group

Key facts

Planned Unit Development: No

Housing proposed: Total 146 units

  • 90 senior units (100% affordable)
  • 50 market townhouses
  • 6 affordable townhouses

Parking spaces provided: onsite for townhouse units

Comments: Would be the fastest to build as it would be a by-right project, but is also problematic as it has no affordable units outside of the senior units. Additionally, six of the rowhouses are planned on the site of the historic Hebrew Home which would require HPO and HPRB approval, which I find doubtful. Powerpoint available here.

Team #3: Mission First, Urban Matters, & Lock7

Key facts

Planned Unit Development: Yes

Housing proposed: Total 224 units

  • 86 senior units in historic Hebrew Home (81 affordable, 21% at less than 30% AMI) (1- and 2-bedroom units)
  • 117 new construction apartment units (95 affordable, 24% at less than 30% AMI) (1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom units)
  • 21 new condo units on 10th Street (2 affordable)

Parking spaces provided: underground.

Comments: This project would be completed in three phases, with the Hebrew Home building being the first phase. This proposal is the most sensitive of those that were presented with regards to the preservation and renovation of the Hebrew Home building, with a commitment to preserve/restore interior elements of the building as well. Of the projects that proposed more density, this proposal has good harmony and relationship to the historic structure. Powerpoint available here.

Team #4: CPDC & NVR

Key facts

Planned Unit Development: Yes

Housing proposed: Total 109 units

  • 77 senior units in historic Hebrew Home (100% affordable) (1- and 2-bedroom units)
  • 32 new construction townhouses (4 affordable)

Parking spaces provided: contained in each new rowhouse.

Comments: This team proposed the least number of overall units for the site, with nearly all of the affordable units being for seniors in the Hebrew Home building. The rowhouses proposed reflect the rowhouse character of the surrounding neighborhood. Powerpoint available here.

Team #5: Borger Management & Spectrum Management

Key facts

Planned Unit Development: Yes

Housing proposed: Total 202  units

  • 30% of the units will be affordable
  • 15% of units will be set aside for families at 30% of AMI.

Parking spaces provided: 49 surface parking spaces.

Comments: This is a good architect and developer, but the number of affordable units is at the minimum amount required. There is no dedicated senior housing, and the current design isn’t as compatible or sensitive or compatible with the surrounding community as other high-density proposals. Powerpoint available here.

Team #6: NHP Foundation, Fivesquares, & The Warrenton Group

Key facts

Planned Unit Development: Yes

Housing proposed: Total 206 units

  • 131 apartments (95 affordable)
  • 75 condos (8 affordable)

Parking spaces provided: underground parking.

Comments: The density of this project was compatible with the existing Hebrew Home building. One of the merits of this proposal was how it focused on greenspace. The green roofs, landscaping, and particularly the deep set back on 10th Street which included a wide sidewalk and benches were features that should be incorporated into the final project regardless of who the developer is. Powerpoirnt available here.

Team #7: Gilbane Development & NHT-Enterprise

Key facts

Planned Unit Development: Yes

Housing proposed: Total 212  units

Hebrew Home building:

  • 71 affordable units for seniors and families, some of whom are formerly homeless
  • 41 deeply affordable units at 30% AMI

New mixed income building:

  • Mixed-income building with 10% of units affordable to families at 80% AMI
  • 9 for-sale townhomes

Parking spaces provided: underground

Comments: This was a good group who indicated a wiliness to create more affordable units if the District would be willing to provide additional financial support. It was the only proposal to include permanent supportive housing for residents formerly homeless, and the team demonstrated a record of other deeply affordable projects that they had completed. Powerpoint available here.

Efforts to Redevelop Hebrew Home Property Still Moving Along

February 10, 2017
The former Hebrew Home and Robeson School site at 1125 Spring Road.

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

The District’s efforts to find a developer for the former Hebrew Home for the Aged at 1125 Spring Road are making progress. Two public meetings were held to solicit community input through the OurRFP process, one on April 9, 2016, and a follow up meeting on June 2, 2016. Following these meetings, the RFP was issued July 1, 2016.

The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) received nine proposals from the following development teams in response to the RFP:

  • Borger Management and Spectrum Management
  • Gilbane Development Company and NHT-Enterprise
  • Duball and Bundy Development Corp.
  • Community Preservation and Development Corporation (CPDC) and NVR
  • Telesis Corp.
  • Mission First, UrbanMatters Development and Lock7 Development
  • NHP Foundation, Fivesquares Development, and Warrenton Group
  • Victory Housing and Brinshore Development
  • Bozzuto Homes and The Menkiti Group

The next step in the process will be for DMPED to coordinate with ANCs 1A and 4C, and the community, to review the concepts and garner comments on which proposals are considered most promising. This could happen withing the next few weeks with the ANCs considering formal positions at their March meetings.

Then and Now: Lithuanian Embassy on 16th Street

January 26, 2017

Recently I found a glass magic lantern slide showing the “Norwegian Ligation” located on 16th Street in 1912 (see below). The Norwegian embassy moved to a new building on Massachusetts Avenue in 1931, where it remains today.

1912-norway-lithuania-embassies(Lithuanian Embassy building on 16th Street in 1912)

Anyone familiar with the building will know instantly that the building in the photo is actually two buildings. the northern half is the Lithuanian Embassy, and the southern half was razed and replaced with a tall apartment building in 1965 which is jarringly incompatible with the surrounding architectural character of the area. However, I think it is easy to miss that the Lithuanian embassy building itself has also had an addition — not just in the rear but also on top. In this way, I think the expansion of the 1907 building was accomplished successfully. It is also good to see that Lithuania is a good steward of its building, and undertook a restoration of the limestone and terracotta facades in 2008, which can be seen here.

lithuanian-embassy-2017(View of Lithuanian Embassy and abutting apartment building as it appears today)

Approved Development Site on Park Road on the Market

December 16, 2016

Perspective 2 625 Park Road

I’ve received a heads up from a number of people that the church and parking lot at 625 Park Road is for sale, with an asking price of $8,900,000. The property last sold in July 2013 for $2,100,000 and while there have been no improvements to the property, it does have an approved development plan that is valuable (plans here).

The listing states:

Opportunity for Condo builders -Shovel Ready- Approved 38 units with Plans and Permit. For sale is the assemblage of existing church at 625 Park road to be converted to 12 units and a lot at 633 Park road approved for 26 units. Total of 36K sqft. (11) 1BR/1.5 Baths, (26) 2BR/2.5 baths and (1) 3BR unit.

The former church building on the property was added to the DC Inventory of Historic Sites in June 2014, but that listing does not include the vacant parking lot. The resulting plan and overall concept was approved by both the Board of Zoning Adjustment and the Historic Preservation Review Board. Since that time there has been no progress on the site, which is puzzling. While the historic status of the church initially created a design challenge (already solved), it also created some financial incentives.

The biggest asset for the church structure is that a 20% income tax credit is available for the rehabilitation of historic, income-producing buildings.  This incentive is significant enough that many developers who renovate large apartment buildings will nominate their buildings for historic consideration in order to qualify for the tax credit. In nearby Columbia Heights, Urban Investment Partners (UIP) sought and got landmark status for the apartment building at 1346 Park Road precisely for this reason. Other sources of revenue are available as well, such as a DC Preservation League grant for up to $50,000 that could be used for a bricks-and-mortar project at the church building.

Unfortunately, the site is too small (and too expensive) for it to be incorporated into the effort to redevelop Park Morton — though I’ve long thought it would have been a nice addition to the project with the church functioning as a community meeting room, rental office, and other community uses.

Its also notable that while the site is officially listed on Redfin now, the owner seems to have been willing to sell the property since the beginning of the year as it was one of the sites Mayor Bowser considered for the new short-term family housing to be built across the city so that D.C. General can close, but the site was ultimately not selected for a shelter as it was considered to be too small for that purpose too.

Perspective 1 625 Park Road

Refresh of Petworth’s Chez Billy Hardly Refreshing

December 5, 2016

Back at the end of July 2016, Petworth’s Chez Billy closed to “refresh the decor” and launch a new “concept.” Now, four months since, it appears that we have a clue as to what a refresh of the decor actually means. I was very disappointed to see that the exterior of the building is being painted an interesting shade of green with the covering or removal of the handsome Tudor elements.

former-chez-billy(Transformation of Petworth’s former Chez Billy at 3815 Georgia Avenue, NW)

Personal tastes aside, the transformation of the exterior is particularly disappointing as the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009 (read nomination here) due to the site’s association with Billy Simpson’s House of Seafood and Steaks — which was historically significant for playing a notable role in the social and political culture of the District of Columbia’s African American community. The restaurant was frequented by many notable people in politics and government, and the owner, William W. “Billy” Simpson, was an avid supporter of civil rights and anti-war causes.

When the building was renovated for Chez Billy, the exterior was tastefully restored to be in keeping with the site’s history. Now it appears that all that will remain will be a plaque alerting passers-by that the building  is on the African American Heritage Trail with a brief paragraph of explanation.

The photo below shows what the building looked like before the refresh.

Chez Billy's

Preservation Office’s New Online Application Maps Historic Development and Preservation of DC

November 29, 2016

I thought this was interesting, yesterday the Historic Preservation Office announced the launch of HistoryQuest DC, a GIS-based web map that provides historical data on approximately 127,000 extant buildings in Washington, D.C. The Office of Planning’s Web site provides the following description of the application:

The application, HistoryQuest DC, is an interactive GIS map that provides historical data on approximately 127,000 extant buildings in Washington, D.C.  The map offers several operational layers of information for the user including historic data on individual buildings, links to documentation on properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places, information on historic residential subdivisions, and the identification and boundaries of the L’Enfant Plan, and the city’s Squares, and Wards. The featured layer in the map—the Historical Data on DC Buildings—provides information from a variety of sources on original dates of construction, architects, owners and builders of the city’s historic buildings.

The application also includes a Query tool that allows the user to analyze the historic data within a specified geographic area or city-wide.

This application has evolved out of the DC Historical Building Permits Database project and is still a work-in-progress. Anyone with additional information or knowledge about specific buildings that will enhance, enrich, or correct the map, please use the “Propose Data Change” on the banner at the top of the map, complete and submit the GeoForm.

By using the search box, anyone using the maps can quickly get to basic data on any property, including when a house was built and who the architect and builder were. The various layers also can generate some interesting maps. In addition to historic landmarks, the following maps show some examples of the maps that it generates.

history-quest-1(In looking at the map generally, it is easy to quickly get an idea of how old section of DC are. The older the building, the darker the color.)

history-quest-2(In exploring the various layers, one option is to show existing historic districts.)

history-quest-3(Another interesting feature, many of the original subdivisions have been recorded.)

Inaugural Evelyn Greenberg Preservation Awards Includes Recognition of Historic Hebrew Home Building

August 4, 2016

On June 9, 2016, the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington (JHSGW) presented their inaugural Evelyn Greenberg Preservation Awards — a tribute for Evelyn Greenberg, who was instrumental in re-discovering and saving the historic 1876 Adas Israel synagogue from the wrecker’s ball in 1969. The building is destined to be moved again as a result of the Capitol Crossing project.

Two Greenberg Preservation Awards were presented this year. I received one for my work that resulted in the successful nomination of the buildings at 1125-1131 Spring Road, NW — the former home of the Hebrew Home of the Aged and the JSSA (Jewish Social Service Agency). Both properties are now on the D.C. Inventory of Historic Sites and listed on the National Register.

I thought you would enjoy watching the video of the event, and my presentation on the history of the Hebrew Home, which was released yesterday by the JHSGW and view-able below.


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