Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lock7 Development Planning a 49 Unit Mixed-Use Project on Florida Ave


Local developer Lock7 recently purchased much of the north side of the 1300 block of Florida Avenue NE. Their property begins at the northwest corner (currently Open Studio, and formerly the Nifty Thrift), and ends just before CONNERMSMITH Gallery (1358 Florida Avenue). Current plans call for 49 residential units, and commercial space, in a four story building. Four of those will be studios (first floor), 29 will be one bedrooms, and the remaining 16 units will have two bedrooms. The developer is not yet sure whether these will be condos, or apartments. They will make that decision mid-way through the development.

The old Nifty Thrift in 2006 (now a screen printing studio & gallery)

At a recent community meeting the developers asked neighbors for their ideas regarding a potential tenant for the commercial space. The developers mentioned a bakery as a possibility, but said they are open to other options (including an art gallery, as shown in the rendering at the top of the post).

The presentation ran smoothly, until hit a bit of a snag when it reached the topic of parking. The developers said they to provide eight surface parking spaces…for 49 units. The current requirement is 17 spaces (they asked for that relief, plus FAR 3.5 versus 3.0). As you can imagine, the crowd was unimpressed with this proposal. Parking is frequently a hot button issue in the District, and our neighborhood is no exception.  As H Street draws larger crowds, we see less available parking on/around this stretch of Florida Avenue. This project will be easily walkable to a streetcar/X2/X1 stop, & there is a Bikeshare station down the block (plus parking on-site for 37 bikes). So maybe many residents won't bring cars. Even if that's the case, I would still assume a full building would bring far more that eight cars.

One neighbor asked whether residents of the new development would be eligible for zoned residential parking passes. Some projects in the city have been supported by neighborhood groups after the developer agreed that his tenants would be ineligible. A Dock7 representative said they were open something like that, but that it remains unclear whether such a provision would be enforceable.

They are seeking a total height of 55', which is 5' more than matter of right. They are working with the local ANC rep to explore expanding the H Street arts overlay, under which the full 55' would be matter of right. The project will have a green roof. As required by law, it will also have a few affordable units (3-4).

We're looking at a May groundbreaking, with units hitting the market roughly a year later. This is one of several new multi-unit residential construction projects coming to this portion of Florida Avenue.

The above is all from my meeting notes/tweets, but Urban Turf is also covering the development.


Anonymous said...

This troll is tireless! What could make someone that upset? smh

Robert Mann-Thompson said...

Clearly 8 parking spots isn't enough and would place a serious burden on the nearby streets. Thankfully I'm in good hands with my ANC.

Anonymous said...

always sad to see old buildings go, even if not legally historic

Alan Page said...

"...but that it remains unclear whether such a provision would be enforceable."

Residential parking is not a civil right, if someone signed a lease (for a rental) agreeing not to pursue a residential parking pass, it would be enforceable. The trick would be, how would you enforce it? Award neighbors with a $100 rental rebate for snitching on their parking neighbors? Somehow the city needs to team up with developers, perhaps to block out any cars registering from addresses with residential parking permit bans from even applying for RPP. Seems like a basic system fix that the city could handle.

As a side note, I've never had trouble finding parking in Trinidad. And if historic patterns hold, a sizable portion of the people moving into that development will not have cars. Perhaps the developers can work with Atlas Flats, AVA and 360H to draw up some rough numbers on how many new renters in these type of buildings have cars, proportionate to their respective developments?

Alan Page said...

Anecdotally, how many parking spaces are in 360H versus units available? Senate Square? AVA? Are a lot of these developments on a one-to-one ratio with parking (one parking space per unit)?

I guess I should include a caveat on my last message that I haven't parked in Trinidad very often, usually only when I can't find parking on my side of Florida, which is a rare instance (eventually I find something, usually).

IMGoph said...

there were minor concerns with parking at the TNA meeting last night, but the conversation was much broader. more discussion of the commercial use, whether it would be affordable, and the design.

they've already gone back and redone their parking scheme somewhat. they took feedback from the meeting last week and are now very interested in keeping the units from being able to qualify for RPP.

all in all, it was a very cordial discussion last night. people said what they liked and didn't like, but there was no anger, no yelling. just talk.

inked said...

I wish I could have made last night's meeting. Any chance you can break down some of the more interesting points?

I have a feeling this will end with strict limits on eligibility for RPP. I expect most of the units to go for whatever they can fetch (aside from the few affordable ones). But I'm curious where the discussion on commercial uses headed.

Did you get the feeling that the location of the meeting (i.e. further from Florida Avenue) changed the tone of the meeting from that of the ANC6A meeting?

Steven said...

Seriously people, enough with the parking drama! Having access to plentiful free street parking in an urban environment is a completely unreasonable expectation. 41 units without parking passes won't change anything, either.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more Steven. DC has become a pool of whiners lamenting about their access to free public parking.

Anonymous said...

Eight spaces is limited but there is bike parking. Granted, I don't live near the site so it would not impact me and I have access to an off street parking space and no car. If they don't have parking available, there should be controls that are enforced by the city to avoid illegal parking and impact of residents living on side streets in the vicinity.

The commercial space can be quite positive - keeping some sort of gallery/art space and having a real neighborhood coffee shop in this side of the neighborhood/Atlas District would be good. They did promise no bars or liquor stores, which is a plus, but need something to draw people from Trinidad in and remain profitable. Perhaps one or two computers with internet access would be needed by local residents that do not have access in the home. Someone suggested a cleaners but here are a few not far away on H. Could the developer look at what is being driven off H Street because rents are increasing and see if those businesses would find a consumer base a few blocks away? The space would not be large enough for a gym but that would also be a great addition.

What is going into the retail space a few blocks away at West Virginia and Florida Ave? Will there be retail in the old Black Supermarket space when that renovation is finished? And did that building have parking access or did it never become an issue because it is a smaller building that did not ask for variances? That doesn't need an answer but I see the parking as more than just this one building - how will the impact be felt by residents across that stretch of Florida Avenue if this goes in with limited parking; they turn Jimmy's Tires into another 45 units; and another dozen or so behind that, mostly without parking? Where will their visitors park? How, if at all, is new development being factored into DDOT planning along Florida Avenue, which has issues with speeding and careless driving in general?

Anonymous said...

People, there is no inherent, absolute, or bestowed right to free, public parking. You live in a city -- space is limited and development is driven by supply and demand. Right now, the demand in our area is high -- and that's a good thing. If you don't like it, you can cash out and move somewhere else. Cities and neighborhoods change. Get used to it NIMBYs -- you can't stop it.

Staples Street said...

i am old and i have lived here xx years and hear me roar rawr rawr rawwrrrrr

Anonymous said...

Funny thing is that the newbys that will be able afford this place actually have more and bigger cars per households than the old timers with lower incomes. Not uncommon to see two autos per household.

Carver Hillbilly said...

Frankly, I love seeing news about this kind of development. If we want our local restaurants/bars and future retail spaces to have sustainable business, we need increased density. I want our neighborhood to continue to get great new additions, but that will always come with a tradeoff. If that tradeoff is parking than I will gladly ride my bike more.

pat said...

Perhaps the developer can commit to getting at least 3-4 car share spaces set aside on the street for the building users and contract to pay for a capital bikeshare bike dock there.

A bike lane down Florida would be the piece de resistance

L Street Neighbor said...

" Not uncommon to see two autos per household"

In a market rent apartment building? Nah. There are a bunch of new apartment buildings going up, especially on the west side of the 'hood. If everyone in those apartments had 2 cars, no one would have street parking anywhere on the west side. A lot of folk moving in are either biking it, Metro-ing it or actually hopping on the X buses (bless their souls).

I'd like to see an art gallery!

Maybe a vegetarian restaurant?

Anonymous said...

I am yet to observe an argument against the relief of parking requirements that consists of anything more than suppositions or anecdotes. Until someone can produce reliable vehicle ownership statistics for each ward/neighborhood, any argument against the relief of parking requirements will baseless.

What I consistently observe is the notion that developers and the city can somehow come together to form a unified strategy of dealing with a purported parking issue. The problem with this idea is that the developers have a conflict of interest in that they charge for parking. It would be legally challenging for the District to impose this sort of law without endless challenges for relief.

Anonymous said...

"Thankfully I'm in good hands with my ANC."

How so? Can you show me a time when your ANC successfully convinced ZC/BZA to increase the required number of spots for a PUD? It evades my recent memory...

Anonymous said...

"Anecdotally, how many parking spaces are in 360H versus units available? Senate Square? AVA? Are a lot of these developments on a one-to-one ratio with parking (one parking space per unit)?"

If I recall correctly, these buildings are at or under code (with relief granted). And charge for parking [someone chime in if they know the rate, I am guessing $100-200 month).

Anonymous said...

"all in all, it was a very cordial discussion last night. people said what they liked and didn't like, but there was no anger, no yelling. just talk."

Unlike the early days of ANC2C02, where death threats and racist epithets (towards "newcomers") were par for the course. Glad to see civility ensued.

Anonymous said...

If a developer is creating a new residence that greatly increases the number of residents in an existing footprint, then they should provide commensurate parking facilities. Why is that unreasonable? The neighborhood is primarily row houses, so the influx of mixed-use developments throws the balance of parking-to-residents out of whack. I don't have any stats but I live about two blocks away, and parking is often tight. So I don't know whether parking should be considered a right, but it should be planned for.

IMGoph said...

Inked: In response to your queries (sorry I didn't respond sooner, was out of town for Thanksgiving and not really paying close attention to the internet), I'll start at the end.

I don't know if the location made much of a difference. Most of the people talking about the project made it clear that they live relatively close to the southern end of the neighborhood, though there were clearly supportive voices coming from the northern edge of Trinidad as well.

As far as interesting points, I'd say one was learning the difference between "bollard" and "column" as architectural terms. There was disappointment that bollards were being considered around the entrance. That was seen as an extension of the ugly federal securicrat state spreading into the residential part of town. Luckily, further clarification made it clear that we were talking about structural columns surrounding the entrance. Whether you like the look or not, at least it was clarified.

I think it was pretty clear as well that the developers are not certain about the prospects of condo v. apartment. My bet is that they'll stick with apartment and hold on to the building for some time.

There was some discussion about the facade not being "of" the neighborhood. A gentleman pointed out that the neighborhood is mostly modest brick buildings, and while the developers said they took inspiration from H Street and the Florida Market for the design, the neighbor was quick to point out that, while those are certainly nearby, they just aren't Trinidad.

m a dollar sign E said...

Why does a new facade have to be 'modest' to correspond to a (formerly) modest neighborhood. Can't it lift the surrounding area past 'modest'?

Unknown said...

Late to the conversation but want to clarify that Lock 7 is not working with the ANC to expand the H St Arts Overlay down Florida Ave. That is something that has been in the works long before Lock 7 considered the property. The developers pointed out that should the new zoning re-write include a Trinidad arts district, what they are asking exemptions for would be a matter of right (the additional 5 feet in height and the reduced number of parking spaces).

Parking is a bit of a sore topic for residents on this block of Orren (and the new development host a front door on Orren rather than Florida). It is the only block nearby with zone 5 & 6 RPP clearly providing parking for those who do not live on the block. In addition, the House of Pain fire fighters have atrocious parking habits, parking throughout the alley as well as on the street. That said, in this section of Trinidad nearly everyone has off-street parking.