HPA No. 1981-244 (In re. 3020 K Street, N.W.)
- HPA Number: 1981-244
- Case Name: Application for a New Construction Permit for a Mixed Use Development Project at 3020 K Street, NW
- Location of Property: 3020 K Street, NW, Lot 102 (Combined Lots 101, 800, 808, 811, and 812), Square 1173
- Date of Decision: September 11, 1981
- Type of Permit Sought: New Construction
- Disposition: Granted
- Date of Case Summary: June 21, 2007
Georgetown Harbor Associates (the “Applicant”) sought a permit for the construction of a new mixed-use development project at 3020 K Street, NW (the “Subject Site”), on the Georgetown Waterfront in the Old Georgetown Historic District. Specifically, the Applicant planned to remove a concrete batching plant and replace it with new construction. The proposed project totaled 738,000 square feet and was to be completed in two phases. The project included office development, retail and residential spaces, as well as underground parking and miscellaneous spaces for structures such as ramps and loading docks. The centerpiece of the proposed project was “an elliptical boat basin flanked on the riverside by a promenade with structures formed around the basin in a colonnade design.” The Parties in Opposition, which included the Advisory Neighborhood Commission and the Commission of Fine Arts, recommended against the proposal because they argued that the design of the proposed project differed and conflicted with the character of the Old Georgetown Historic District in several ways, including the size and scale of the project, façade, individual elements of the project, and because the project would create a barrier severing the historic link between Georgetown and the Potomac River. Despite recommendations against the proposal, the Mayor’s Agent granted the permit, concluding that the project was compatible with the character of the Old Georgetown Historic District. The Mayor’s Agent reasoned that the height, materials (e.g., texture, color, and nature), and appearance of the proposed project were similar to those that dominate the Old Georgetown Historic District. The decision includes extensive discussion of the design features that characterize the Old Georgetown Historic District, including the residential section north of M Street, and the industrial section toward the waterfront.
Mayor’s Agent – Procedural:
• The Mayor’s Agent stated that the Parties in Opposition bear the burden of showing that the design of the proposed construction is not compatible with the character of the historic district.
• The Mayor’s Agent concluded that many of the non-design issues raised by the Parties in Opposition were not germane to the issue of incompatibility of the design with the historic district, and stated that the only issue before the Mayor’s Agent was the issue of compatibility of Applicant’s design with the character of the historic district. The non-design issues included the floodplain, Whitehurst Freeway, boat basin or boatlift, preference of the Parties in Opposition for a park, and the economic benefit of the proposed project to the city.
• The Mayor’s Agent cited Section 8(f) of the Act, finding that it requires “due consideration of the zoning laws and regulations of the District of Columbia” in determining whether proposed new construction designs are compatible with the applicable historic district.
• The Mayor’s Agent stated that although the Applicant must submit a list of witnesses who will testify on its behalf, neither the Rules nor the Act require a witness list from Parties in Opposition.
The Mayor’s Agent concluded that the proposed project was compatible with the character of the Old Georgetown Historic District as required by the Act. The Mayor’s Agent reasoned that: (1) the height of the project and the height of the buildings within the Old Georgetown Historic District are within the same range (i.e., between 20 to 90 feet in height); (2) the texture, color, and nature of the materials of the proposed project are those that dominate the Old Georgetown Historic District (i.e., red brick with limestone trim and rusticated stone); and (3) the arrangement of the project is typical of Georgetown building groups (i.e., the roofline is broken up, and the elements of three dimensional façades, bays, turrets, elliptical windows, segmented windows, mansard roofs and modulated balconies are positioned to simulate a group of attached Georgetown structures). The Mayor’s Agent also found that the scale of the project (approximately 60% of the “permitted zoning envelope” and projected lot occupancy of 53%), was of a height, bulk and density lower than permitted under the zoning laws and regulations for this area.
The Mayor’s Agent specifically pointed out that although the project was estimated to generate 1,400 jobs and $8,500,000 in tax revenues, “economic benefit to the city is not a factor in a case brought under the new construction provisions” of the Act.
A report prepared by a consultant hired by Applicant to assess the project’s impact on traffic was discussed. The Mayor’s Agent found that such report was sufficient to establish that Applicant gave due consideration to traffic considerations while designing the project, and that the Parties in Opposition “have not shown that traffic congestion will negatively impact the design of the proposed project and make it incompatible with the historic district.”
The Parties in Opposition argued that other land uses were more historically appropriate for the Subject Site. Specifically, the Parties in Opposition recommended the creation of a public park at the Subject Site. The Mayor’s Agent however, rejected this argument, stating that at the turn of the century the uses surrounding the Subject Site included a coal yard, gas works fertilizer plant, manufacturing establishments and retail structures intermixed with two-story row houses. Thus, the Mayor’s Agent determined that the use of the Georgetown Waterfront as a park had no historical precedent and concluded that the proposed project was not incompatible with the Old Georgetown Historic District.
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