*HPA Number: 85-090
*Case Name: In the Matter of: Almas Temple Club
*Location: Lots 800, 803, 804, 864, 813 and 63 in Square 248 on the north side of K Street, N.W.
*Date of Order: 05/21/1985
*Type of Permit Sought: Demolition, Alteration and New Construction
*Date of Case Summary: 11/26/14
*Issue Area(s): Consistent with the Purposes of the Act, Façade
Applicant Almas Temple Club (“the Club”) and Rouse & Associates applied for permits for demolition, new construction and alteration under Sections 5 and 8 of the Historic Landmark and Historic District Protection Act (the “Act”) to demolish an existing structure owned by Applicants and build a new structure in its place on the site, known as the Almas Temple Building at 1315-1323 K Street and 1000 13th Street, N.W. The site was designated as a Category III Landmark in 1981 because of its “elaborate and ornamental polychrome terra cotta façade and because of its historical use as a clubhouse for the Almas Temple of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.” Applicants’ plan was to demolish the entire structure except for the ornamental façade facing K Street, and rebuild a new office and retail structure around the façade, which would include an improved facility for the Club.
The Mayor’s Agent held that the proposed demolition and preservation of the original portion of the K Street façade of the Almas Temple Club was necessary in the public interest because it was consistent with the purposes of the Act.
*The Historic Preservation Review Board (“HPRB”) granted a request to waive, via the Emergency Rules of the Board, the requirement that the Zoning Administrator “sign off” on the project before HPRB may consider the application. A reason was not given for this decision.
*The Mayor’s Agent granted a request for an expedited hearing for good cause based on “Applicant’s need to vest approval given by the Board of Zoning Adjustment, Applicant’s financial commitments, and the need to make a decision concerning temporary relocation of the Club’s facilities.” No objections were made by the ANC 2C commission, the D.C. Preservation League or abutting property owners.
*Consistent with the Purposes of the Act:*
Applicants argued that the plan was consistent with the purpose of the Act because it would retain the “character-defining” feature of the landmark--the ”ornamental façade” -- and would enable the Almas Temple Shrine organization to continue to use the structure, which, in its present form, had become inadequate to meet the Club’s needs. “The proposal would “result in the protection and enhancement of the landmark as well as the economic adaptive reuse of a property now in decline and the continued presence of the historic Club function on the site.”
The Mayor’s Agent agreed with Applicant and held that the project was consistent with the purposes of the Act in that it would “retain and enhance the aesthetic appearance [o]f the significant portion of the exterior of the structure” and that demolition is an effective way to enable adaptive reuse of the temple that allows the Club to continue to operate on the historic site.
See HPA No. 1986-372, May 15, 1987 order, for subsequent history.