HPA No. 1990-179, 1990-654 (In re. Hospital for Sick Children)
- HPA Number: 1990-179, 1990-654
- Building Name: Hospital for Sick Children
- Location: 1731 Bunker Hill Road, N.E., Square 4163, Lot 4
- Date of Order: 11/1/1990
- Type: Partial Demolition
- Disposition: Granted
- Date of Case Summary: 9/7/2006
The Hospital for Sick Children (the “ *Applicant”) originally applied for a permit to demolish a building on Applicant’s site (HPA No. 90-179). Applicant’s site had been designated as an individual landmark by the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board (the “HPRB”). Applicant’s site consisted of a building constructed in 1929-1930 (with later alterations and additions), a building constructed in 1967-1968 (which connected to the 1929-1930 building), and surrounding grounds, which site was used as a medical facility for pediatric patients needing long-term care.
Applicant sought to demolish the 1929-1930 building and replace it with a new hospital wing; the HPRB opposed. During the hearing, the Mayor’s Agent requested that Applicant and the two opposing parties negotiate and attempt to agree on an alternative to total demolition. Following these discussions in which alternative plans were considered, Applicant withdrew its application for demolition under HPA No. 90-179 and submitted an application for partial demolition, HPA No. 1990-654, based on an agreed-upon design that preserved most of the 1920-1930 building.
Concluding that because the proposed partial demolition was consistent with the purposes of the Historic Landmark and Historic District Protection Act of 1978 (the “Act”) in that it would result in retention and substantial restoration of most of the 1929-1930 building and its significant features, and would adapt the 1920-1930 building to current use, and because the demolition was necessary to adapt the site for important medical uses, the Mayor’s Agent ordered issuance of the demolition permit HPA No. 1990-654.
Mayor’s Agent – Procedural:
The D.C. Preservation League (“DCPL”) petitioned for party status less than ten working days prior to the hearing, but was admitted after Mayor’s Agent waived “the ten-day rule” set forth in 10 D.C.M.R. §2517.11.
Necessary in the Public Interest:
The Mayor’s Agent explained that before it could issue a permit to demolish a landmark, it “must make a finding that issuance is ‘necessary for the public interest’ or that failure to issue the permit ‘will result in an unreasonable economic hardship.’” It further stated that “‘[n]ecessary in the public interest’ is defined in the Act as ‘consistent with the purposes of this act as set forth in §5-1001(b) or necessary to allow the construction of a project of special merit.’” The Mayor’s Agent ultimately concluded, based on the evidence in the record, the findings of fact, and the recommendation of the HPRB, that the permit was necessary in the public interest to construct a project that is consistent with the purposes of the Act. The Mayor’s Agent also implied that the permit was necessary to allow the construction of a project of special merit; it concluded that the demolition was necessary to adapt the site “for important contemporary medical uses which are critical to” the area.
Consistent with the Purposes of the Act:
- Applicant proposed a renovation and expansion project that would consist of: “demolition of portions of the 1929-1930 building and its repair and restoration for administrative use; construction of a new 80-bed addition and new conference, training and service space adjacent to the 1929-1930 building; and alterations to the 1967-68 building.” It asserted that the proposed demolition was consistent with the purposes of the Act.
- The Mayor’s Agent found that the plan for partial demolition would “retain the building’s principal character-defining features and architectural significance” and that Applicant had developed “an overall plan and compatible design for new construction which respects the siting, architectural character, and essential design details of the historic 1929-30 structure.” For example, a major portion of the landmark building would be saved, the new construction would be set back in the hillside, retaining the sense of enclosure, historically derived details of the design complemented the English/Norman cottage architectural style of the original 1929-30 building, and its scale and massing were planned to maintain a low profile, which would allow “the central feature of the site to be the 1929-30 historic building.”
- The Mayor’s Agent noted that with respect to historic landmarks, the purposes of the Act are: (1) to retain and enhance historic landmarks in D.C. and to encourage their adaptation for public use; and (2) to encourage the restoration of historic landmarks.
- The Mayor’s Agent concluded that HPA No. 90-654 was consistent with the purposes of the Act because it would (1) result in retention of most of the 1929-30 building and its significant features; (2) result in substantial restoration of the 1929-30 building; and (3) adapt the 1929-30 building to current use for administrative functions of Applicant. </li>
Consideration of Alternatives:
During the hearing for the original application requesting total demolition, the Mayor’s Agent requested that Applicant and the two opposing parties undertake private discussions and attempt to agree on an alternative to total demolition. The Mayor’s Agent noted that the parties considered at least eight alternative schemes and agreed upon a design which preserved most of the 1929-1930 building (the design which became the subject of the second permit application).
Project of Special Merit – Social or other Benefits having a High Priority for Community Services:
Applicant did not argue in its second application (HPA 1990-654) that the permit was necessary in the public interest as a project of special merit, and the Mayor’s Agent did not conclude that the partial demolition and new construction was a project of special merit. However, part of its basis for approving the permit was that “such demolition as will occur is necessary to adapt the site of the Hospital for Sick Children landmark, considered as a whole, for important contemporary medical uses which are critical to Washington, D.C. and to the Washington Metropolitan area.” The Mayor’s Agent reached this conclusion without analysis, although its findings of fact noted that the Hospital’s patients were predominately from low-income families, that the D.C. Health Planning and Development Agency had granted Applicant a Certificate of Need due to its increase in demand for hospital beds, and the D.C. Council had approved a revenue bond issue and loan to Applicant to finance the expansion.
The Mayor’s Agent noted that “[a] plan for partial demolition was developed which will retain the building’s principal character-defining features and architectural significance.” In addition, “a major portion of the landmark building will be saved,” and the scale and massing of the new construction would allow “the central feature of the site composition to be the historic 1929-30 building.”
“[T]he exterior of those portions of the building adjacent to demolition will be restored to their 1930 appearance, and partial interior repair and renovation will be carried out. [Additionally,]… the front entrance and adjacent bays will be returned to their original appearance. In all, a substantial portion of the exterior will be restored...”
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