Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Meeting Re: Development in 600 Blk of H

I just received notice of this meeting regarding the big government building on the south side of the 600 block of H Street (the one housing the Dept. of Employment Services):

When: 6-8pm Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2006
Where: Calvary Episcopal Church, 820 6th St NE, Parrish Hall Meeting Room

“You are invited to a community meeting sponsored by Commissioner Anthony Rivera of ANC6C to receive information and discuss Board of Zoning Adjustment Case 17521, an application filed by 601-645 H Street Ventures LLC for variance and special exception to allow construction of a new mixed-use (residential and commercial) building at 601-645 H Street NE.”

“Representatives of the applicant will be present at Wednesday’s meeting to provide information and answer questions about the proposed development.”

“The property that is the subject of this application consists of Lot 177 in Square 859 and is currently occupied by D.C. government offices.”

The applicant proposes to construct a mixed-use residential and commercial development on the property. The project is designed as a nine-story mixed-use section of the building fronting H Street in the C-2-C zone and steps down to a five-story residential section at the south side of the property in the C-2-A zoned portion of the site.

“The residential condominium will include over 312,000 square feet of gross area and 234 residential units. Three levels of parking below grade will provide approximately 500 parking spaces for office, retail and condominium units. Nearly 8,700 square feet of first floor retail space provides opportunities for retail businesses to have direct access to the pedestrian activity on H Street.”


Hstreet rez said...

A 9 story building on the H street side is way too big. There should also be a step down on the H street side. This huge building will dwarf everything around it.

H Street Resident Who Cares said...

I disagree. Look at U Street. There's a healthy mix of 9+ story buildings AND two story buildings. Some of the big ones are modern, some are not. It creates for an interesting and dynamic environment. The issue is whether the nine story bldg. on H Street is DESIGNED correctly, to fit in with the rest of the street. Right now, the current bldg. is an eyesore.

Want to See H Street Improve said...

It would be great to see more than 8700 sf of retail. If I am thinking of the correct building/site, there is a significant amount of street frontage. Attractive ground level retail will help foot traffic and the viability of the commercial corridor.

As for the height, I agreed with the second post. U Street has a wide mix of heights and building design, yet the area feels and looks great.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the resident who cares: the issue is design more than actual size. An excellent example is the H Street Self storage (former auto dealership), now there's a big building without much attention to asthetics occupying a great deal of H Street frontage. U Street (and others in the city) combine large spaces with existing buildings very successfully. We should not instantly balk at a project with potential benefit for everyone until all of the details are clear. My $0.02.


hstreet rez said...

Name two buildings on U street NW that are 9 stories high.

6th&L said...

The Ellington is 9 stories (14th&U)...there are several more on the north side fo the street, including the DC offices with the big mural on the side.

You don't really notice - I guess that's the point...

I welcome new development on H, it certainly needs it!

Anonymous said...

The Ellington Condo Building is easily 9 stories.

Anonymous said...

I think the Ellington may only be 8 stories, but feel free to go to google maps and survey U Street, specifically on the north side you should find plenty of "tall" buildings.

Point being, new development should be evaluated completely, not dismissed on the opening sentence.


hstreet rez said...

Height is not bad it just needs to be stepped back from the street.

Pro H St. Development said...

Everone should be acceptable to change and to height, etc. If you all actually want H Street to become something more than it is. It is amazing for how everyone want's change and then you all oppose either the design or the height - this is the 21st century. Also you should all bear in mind that in order for developers to continue to want to build they will have to have more height to accomidate ADU's into the scope of up and coming projects which is good for everyone.

Anonymous said...

You might want to reread the initial post description. I believe it says that it DOES step down to 5 stories at the H Street storefronts would be (steps up to 9 stories sway from the street edge).

In the end, I agree design is more important than the # of stories.

Rob said...

Fascinating...I keep hearing about a coming condo glut...yet here's a project that's moving forward. Maybe it's timed such that the glut in inventory will be processed through the market and demand will be up again?

Richard Layman said...

In the past I haven't been as hyped about height. But I think more height is more appropriate along the railyard, and not deeper into the neighborhood.

I think I didn't fully understand the implications of the height at the Capital Children's Museum site. It's pretty tall on the "backside." Maybe too tall, maybe not.

Good design does make height less of a problem, as this photo of the Ellington shows.

But good design hasn't been a hallmark of any project built directly on H Street as of yet.

Or pretty much close by, as Delta Towers or Capitol Towers illustrate. I do think the new condo buildings at the CCM will look decent, judging by the 400 Mass. NW building designed by the same architects.

I think that the developer would have to provide compelling reasons to justify why the building should be any taller than what's there now.

As well as a focus on the street side, especially at the ground floor.

There are tremendous opportunities for retail with that space. Imagine at Sizzling Express on teh ground floor where DHS is now at the 7th Street side. It would begin to open up the retail core, and add some quality amenities that attract a customer base with a wide variety of demographics.

Similarly, I've always looked at those office buildings and thought--Barnes & Noble (a la Georgetown) and other retail. The spaces on this block--north and south--can accommodate large footprint retail unlike most of the places along the corridor.

That would strengthen the district rather than detract from it.

Hstreet rez said...

Hey anonamous (not JRL),

You read it again
"The applicant proposes to construct a mixed-use residential and commercial development on the property. The project is designed as a nine-story mixed-use section of the building fronting H Street in the C-2-C zone and steps down to a five-story residential section at the south side of the property in the C-2-A zoned portion of the site.

The south side of the property is the side opposite of H st.

H street resident who cares said...

I live 1/2 block from the Children's Museum condos, and I have to say, they may be tall, but wow! If you look at what they've done at the ground level, you'll see that they use a mix of new and what appears to be old brick in the construction. I think the 'towering' old brick is going to be very attractive. Again, it's about design, not really height, IMHO.

Trust me, a well designed nine story bldg. in the center portion of H street is going to look fantastic relative to what there is now.

Just look at the one story urban mall (the one with the Rite Aid). It's a svelte one story, but arguably a BIGGER eyesore (albeit, with more "retail" space, than the current, fairly large government bldg......

Anonymous said...

Tall buildings on U Street:

* the reeves building at 14th and U is 9 stories;

* the ellington, previously mentioned;

* apartment bldg at NW corner of 16th and U is either 8 or 9 stories -- without a setback and right on the sidewalk.

Sherwood Resident said...

H Street needs more nine-story buildings so that it can get the population density needed to ensure a viable, long-term retail, restaurant, entertainment and commercial district. Barracks Row may look good now, but it doesn’t have the density needed to sustain all of its retail. In fact, there has already been some overturn in the businesses on 8th Street SE.

Can anyone say 10+ stories?

The next location for a mixed-use building should be the H Street Connection – the worst development project on H Street. Can I get a second?

H street resident who cares said...

Well said Sherwood! Agreed on all points. Particularly observant on the density issue. That's part and parcel of what drives many areas in DC and other areas.

If density is done within context of the overall character, we may just have a winner.

Richard Layman said...

The Reeves building is a perfect example of new construction as blight. And blight is a word that I do not like to use. It contributed little to the subsequent revitalization on the corridor. Same goes with buildings like Delta Towers.

But the people who've said that height can be countered by design, and frankly, I tend to be more in that camp than not, have to be sure that the design and site plan is in fact quality.

The design is pretty horrible, according to the images provided to us by David Klavitter, which I popped into an entry in my blog.

Klav said...

A few notes from the informational meeting held Aug. 30 about the proposed development at 601-645 H Street NE, held at the Calvary Baptist Church, 820 6th Street NE:

* Project Presenters were Norman M. Glasgow, Jr., with Holland + Knight ( and Robert Atkinson with Davis Carter Scott (

* Overview site plan for the 600 block of H Street NE:

H Street is to the north (bottom), 7th Street is to the east (left), G Street is to the south (top) and 6th Street is to the west (right). The existing five-story buildings are in the lower-left and lower right corner of the block. The dark-gray shading--which fronts H Street--indicates the nine-story condo/retail/office section. The medium gray shading represents five-story condo section. Row houses on 7th, G, and 6th Streets abut the project on the east, south, and west.

* Many residents of G Street expressed concern about a five story building rising up directly across the alley from their back yards. See rendering in lower right corner of image:

* It’s a two-year project; best-case scenario, construction could start in about a year.

* Market project, which means no public finance incentives, hence no low-income housing requirements.

* The developers want to help fund an H Street BID (business improvement district—friendly people in uniform who provide directions and keep the streets and sidewalks clean).

* The 234 residential units could be sold as condos or rented as apartments. The developers won’t decide to sell or rent until they can gauge the market closer to the project’s completion.

* The project will be addressed during the ANC6C Zoning meeting on Sept. 6, and then again at the full ANC6C meeting on Sept. 13. Both meetings start at 7 p.m. at the Mt. Carmel Church, 901 3rd St NW in Washington (