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.
(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.
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.